“Americans today are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism in the twentieth century. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.” -Timothy Snyder, from On Tyranny
In this graphic novel, author Timothy Snyder who is a history professor at Yale has adapted his book of essays from 2017, into an illustrated edition aided by the artist Nora Krug. Obviously distraught over Trump’s presidency (although he refuses to name him in the book), he shares twenty lessons, that are meant to be a call to arms.
He ties the horrors of corrupt governments from the past as a warning and as a guide to resistance. Each of his lessons is expanded upon with examples of governments that fooled, bamboozled, or forced their citizens into subservience. Best read in small chunks, it will give readers a chance to think about his valid points.
Krug’s work is subversive and fragmentary- she combines several mediums of art into a unique collage of images on each page. Her watercolor and pencil art reminds me of Eastern European folk art (which is a nod that many of the governments mentioned are from that region), and she combines that with photographs and scrapbook-type mementos. It all adds to Snyder’s message of fighting oppression, and yes, tyranny. This was a sobering read as we close out the year, but a thoughtful one that is well worth your time.